Scanning our multi-dimensionality, Appreciating our Individuality

Tao begot one.
One begot two.
Two begot three.
And three begot the Ten Thousand Things.
The Ten Thousand Things carries yin and embrace yang.
Yin and Yang begot their individual unity.* 
(Laotzu: Tao Te Ching)

When I start a session I always take a scan of my client.

This is because I need to get a felt sense of their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual qi. I reflect this back to them as I believe it is helpful for the client to feel understood at that level. It helps him/her explore their feelings both as emotion and physical ailment. These impressions I draw onto a template (eg. there might zigzag heart if there is anxiety, a question mark if I can’t feel it at all or tight black lines on the body where I am picking up tension). I find this technique one of the best indications for an accurate diagnosis.

So why this unorthodox approach?  The more I work with Shiatsu and CST, the more I know I have to remain aware of fluidity or lack of it within my client’s system and how this interrelates with their wholeness. The Chinese were very intelligent – not only did they conceptualise 12 meridians (named after 12 organs) correlating with the five elements, but they had a felt sense that these channels connected into emotions and mental constructs. Thus grief impinges on the Lung meridian and too much joy (excitement) could damage the Heart. So their concepts of the organs went far beyond our Western strictly physical evaluation of disease. In other words as we are now beginning to realise, emotion and mental beliefs have an incalculable effect on our health.

In the first chapter of his classic The Web that has no Weaver acupuncturist Ted Kaptchuck describes six cases of peptic ulcers where the causes in TCM terms were varied: “The patterns of disharmony are similar to what the West calls disease in that their discovery tells the physician how to prescribe treatment. But they are different from diseases because they cannot be isolated from the patient in which they occur.” Through Chinese medicine Kaptchuk realises that each patient has a very specific response to his own life events and needs to be treated as a person, not as the manifestation of a generic disease.  

That individuality was addressed over thousands of years in the West by shamans and later by traditional healers, usually herbalists (interesting that their approach is becoming increasingly popular).  Of course Western medicine has advanced hugely from the barber surgeons of Medieval times: we have mapped our physiologies through dissection and experiment and with advanced optics we have probed into the individual cell and beyond. As we penetrate deeper into matter, pharma companies are producing synthetic drugs for complaints without the added dimensions of their predecessor herbalists. The medications work to a point but they are palliatives and often iatrogenic (causing side effects) - there is a sense that they cannot cover all the bases. The body’s complexity cannot be tackled through a mechanistic approach alone.

Chinese Medicine and the Daoist philosophy that underpins it teaches that all is movement, all is flux (a world view encapsulated in the I Ching or Book of Changes). The TCM philosophy behind Acupuncture and Shiatsu works directly with this concept of change. Thus focus is laid on the function of the organs not their physical state, tracing their qi flow through the body in the context of the whole. When the whole is treated then the client feels very different.

It is now time to see what has happened to the client at the end of a session. How to much has changed?  Though miracles do not occur  there will be changes. The client may feel lighter, or that they inhabit more space because their contracted limbs have released. This could be sensed as feeling bigger, more confident. Perhaps most important they have may begin to have a sensation of coming back into themselves. There is space for them in their bodies. This is the felt sense of embodiment, of allowing one’s qi to flow, a palpable feeling of coming home. It is only from this point of re-inhabiting  the physical body that we have a place to sit back and wonder at the extraordinary fate that has brought us into existence in all our complexity and individuality. From appreciating and accepting ourselves as individuals we can then have a sense of our particular contribution to the whole and our connection to all life on this planet. Isn’t this more like true health?



For any further information on Shiatsu and Craniosacral Therapy contact

01666 824 625 or 07952 923 245

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Clinics are in Malmesbury and Bristol.
For further details see Appointments.

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